I have received a few messages lately asking me why I am doing an Ironman. So I thought with a little over 5 weeks until the big day I would take a few minutes and share my Ironman story so far with you. I started writing this months ago and am finally getting to finishing it now.
Way back in 2007 I went to Australia to ride racehorses for the winter. There was many things in those three months that impacted my life and one of them was Ironman.
I had heard of triathlons before but I really didn’t know what they were. I picked up a newspaper 🗞 and saw that there was going to be an Ironman race in Bussleton a town about 20 minutes south of where I was working in Western Australia. So on the weekend I headed down to see what it was all about. I got there as people were were going through transition, some racing through it and some having a seat taking a break. As I meandered over to the finish line I saw runners of all types, slow, fast and everything in between but one thing they all shared was a look of determination.
At the finish line I saw some bleachers and I took a seat to watch what was happening. The music was booming and the announcer was incredible with his energy. As the athletes crossed the finish line the look of exhaustion was outshawn by the extreme accomplishment they had just achieved. It was in those moments that I knew I had to do it!
I didn’t care that I hadn’t swam lengths in years, actually it had been since swimming lessons as a pre teen. I didn’t care that I didn’t have a bike and definitely didn’t have the money for one. I didn’t care that although I loved running I was a turtle not a hare.
All I knew was I was going to be an Ironman someday and set a 5 year goal to figure out all the above obstacles.
When I got home from Australia I worked my butt off to save up to buy my first bike. My brother has a colleague that owns a bike shop in Sherwood Park and I bought my first bike for $800! Now anyone that knows triathlon knows that this entry level bike was nothing fancy but I knew it was the operator that was going to get to the finish line not the bike.
I rode that bike everywhere. At one point I sold my vehicle and it was my only mode of transportation. I moved back to Australia in the fall of 2008 and had a commuter bike there and started lane swimming, ocean swimming and increasing my running mileage. Swimming was going okay until I was swimming along the beach at the farm I was working at and as I turned my head sideways to take a breath I saw the face of a stingray! I jumped out of the water so fast! Not because I was necessarily scared of the stingray but because it startled me to a new level! To this day I still have anxiety about swimming in the open water. Earlier this year I even created a GIF of myself freaking out because a stick hit my shoulder in the lake!
As my running increased I developed Patella tendonitis and I didn’t know what to do. By this time I was a student and track work rider and definitely couldn’t afford the physiotherapy I needed. I persevered and stopped running for a number of months. I wasn’t even able to land on both feet when dismounting a horse, it was so painful. A change in footwear and some education and I was off running again.
This is where the dream all started now let’s fast forward a few years through the next number of years.
What I didn’t mention above was that I have had right foot pain since I was in my teens. It would wake me from sleeping, I would limp after sitting and it was just an everyday pain that I was forced to be used too. As the years wore on it got worse and worse and I was starting to find that running more than 10 kms a week just wasn’t worth it because the pain would become worse. Ironman was looking unlikely and I kind of started to forget about the dream.
A client of mine sent me a text message one night in early 2013 asking if I thought she could do a mini sprint and asked if I wanted to do it with her. It was 250 m in the pool, a 12 or 15 km ride and a 2.5 km run. I said sure why not! That spring I got a few clients to join us and we all went and did this ladies only triathlon. It was a great day and it started a new addiction for 2 of us.
That summer my new partner in crime went on to do 3 more sprints, an Olympic and trained for the Calgary 70.3. We both had a lot of stuff going on in our lives the weekend of the race and had planned to train and last minute enter or not enter. About 10 days before the race we decided not to do it because our heads weren’t in it. I was getting married the next weekend and my training buddy had a few big events happening at work so we decided to do it ‘next year’.
The next year came and by then we were both pregnant. I did a couple early season sprints while trying to pretend I didn’t want to vomit throughout from baby making me sick and then hung up my bike for the year.
When I gave birth to my oldest son later that year I broke my tailbone and it was obvious after a couple months that I wouldn’t be riding my bike anytime soon. During that pregnancy I was given the opportunity to meet with a surgeon about my foot. I had met many in the past and not a single one was confidently willing to operate. When I met with this surgeon he was confident he could make my foot better but I was of course pregnant and the recovery was going to be 6 weeks in a non weight bearing cast and another 4 weeks in a walking boot so the commitment was an obstacle.
Once baby was born my tailbone was a mess and I knew I wouldn’t be doing any triathlons in the near future so hubby and I decided it would be a good time for our family to have the surgery on my foot. All this equates to no triathlons in 2015. By 2016 we were back to trying to grow our family and our second little guy was born in 2017 so again no triathlons!
As soon as baby was born I just knew 2018 was going to my year to finally complete an Ironman. I set out to work with my Pelvic Floor Physio to get me back to riding my now upgraded bike. 5 minutes at a time at 8 weeks postpartum(November) I rode every other day and eventually worked my way up to know 90 minutes at a time by April. I am still having some trouble finding a bike seat to work with my postpartum pelvis and tail bone but I have managed to do some epic rides and some really long hours on the trainer.
I had done all my rehabilitation like a pro post surgery and did a little bit of running in early 2015 and a few kilometers here and there in pregnancy but that was about it. In January of this year I started running 20 second intervals and I could only do 10 of them! My first run outdoors was in late January and it almost killed me to run 2.5 kms! My have had more than a few old injuries rear their ugly heads in the past 10 months but I have worked with my physio to keep me going and build my mileage.
Open water swimming is slowly getting better and unfortunately because of our early arrival of winter I haven’t done as much as I would like but my swimming is getting better overall in the pool.
I know I will have more to share in the coming weeks but hopefully this gives you a better understanding of why I got this crazy idea and where I am at now over 10 years after setting this goal and just over 3 weeks away from accomplishing this massive goal!
To be continued…